Becoming Plant Powered
It is exciting to run into people who haven’t seen you for a while who comment “you look great; what are you doing”? The problem? How to describe a plant powered lifestyle in just a few words.
Vegan? Vegetarian? Plant Strong? While a little wordy, Whole Food Plant Based really describes what we do and what I promote. It is not a diet but a lifestyle. So how does it differ from other approaches?
Vegetarian — plant based meals which may include eggs and/or milk.
Vegan — eschews the use of all animal products. If it has a face or a mother it will not be consumed or used. For many vegans, this way of life is as much or even more about animal and environmental concerns.
Keep in mind that your diet may still be unhealthy with either of these approaches. If you subsisted on chocolate cream cookies and beer it would be vegan, but would it be good for you? NO!!!
How Does WFPB Set Itself Apart?
Start with the first part – Whole Foods. Eating food in its least processed form. It does not have to be raw; some foods are more nutritious cooked, but try to minimize processing. Examples:
Most processed: Apple juice lacks fiber and other substances which blunt the quick absorption of the sugar.
Better, less processed: Apple sauce without the peeling contains only about ½ of the fiber and polyphenols.
Best: The whole apple contains all the available polyphenols and fiber.
Plant-Based. Someone invariably jokes that cows eat plants so beef is plant-based. It always gets a chuckle from the group until we discuss how multiple large studies link red meat as a cause of colon cancer. Another point is how meat-based proteins (but not plant-based proteins) cause stress to the kidneys in renal failure patients. This potentially means meat is stressful to healthy kidneys as well. So, plant-based means just that—it comes directly from the plant.
Frequently, someone says “I don’t like vegetables.” The plant world is much more varied than people believe. Take a look at this non-exhaustive list of items we can find in stores and farmers’ markets in the North Alabama area. Most people can find something on each list that they like. The items may not be listed botanically, but rather in how they nourish the body.
WHOLE Grains: brown rice, oats, wheat, corn, farro, quinoa, amaranth, barley, rye, buckwheat, bulger, millet, sorghum, spelt, triticale
Nuts, Nut Butters, Seeds and Seed Butter: walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, flax seeds chia seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds
Greens/Cruciferous: lettuces, kale, collards, bok choy, Swiss chard, turnips, spinach, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli rabe, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish greens, rutabaga, tatsoi, watercress
Tubers/Roots: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, onions, parsnips, turnips roots, radish roots, rutabaga, jicama, taro, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, garlic
Other: asparagus, celery, rhubarb, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, pumpkin, squash, snap peas, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, bean sprouts,
Fruits: cantaloupe, watermelon apples, pineapple, oranges, grapes, bananas, raisins, plumes, prunes apricots, peaches, cherries, avocado, kiwi, clementine, dates, figs, grapefruit, honeydew, jackfruit, kumquat, lemon, limes, mango, olives, nectarine, papaya, pear, persimmons, pomegranate, paw paw, quince, tangerine
Berries: blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries, currents, grapes, muscadines, scuppernongs
Beans: English peas, black beans, black-eyed peas, field peas, purple hulls, crowder peas, broad beans, lima beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, split peas, soy beans
Spices and Herbs: Too numerous to name, but wonderful sources of additional plant benefits
Returning to the claim of not liking vegetables, I would ask have you tried every plant fixed every conceivable way? Those with children can relate to the expression, “eat your food, it is good for you” and “how do you know you don’t like it, you haven’t tried it.” So often as adults we fall into a trap of saying “I am an adult and I don’t have to eat it since I don’t like it!” But you really need to think about your health. Try new items. Try old items fixed new ways. One client disliked cooked kale, but tried kale as a salad and enjoyed it. One person loved the consistency and flavor of our cornbread but almost spit it out upon finding it had her hated food group BEANS in it. She overcame the mental obstacle toward eating them and asked for the recipe to make for her family.
Look at this as a food adventure and see what you can do to add more plant-based foods to your diet!